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Pakistan: ICRC boosts its humanitarian response

12-09-2008 News Release 08/170

Islamabad/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed to donors for an additional 4.2 million Swiss francs to finance its expanding activities in Pakistan.

This represents a 25% increase over the initial 2008 budget of 16.6 million francs. The organization is working to meet the emergency needs of around 60,000 people affected by the armed conflict involving government forces and armed opposition groups in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

" The situation is evolving rapidly and remains unpredictable. In order to address the needs of the people who fled the fighting, we need to be able to move quickly and be flexible, " said Pascal Cuttat, the head of the ICRC delegation in Pakistan. " We are expanding our support for hospitals dealing with large influxes of war-wounded people. But we have to be ready to do more. "

The additional funding will mainly be used to deliver relief to people who have been displaced or cut off by the conflict. The ICRC has already distributed essential items such as tarpaulins, blankets, hygiene items and cooking pots to people arriving in improvised camps or staying with host families in Lower Dir and Mardan in the NWFP, and is now entering the next phase in its relief effort, which includes the distribution of food to the displaced.

Because people are gathering in large numbers in confined areas – in makeshift camps and public buildings – without clean water and basic sanitation, they are under constant threat of waterborne disease. The ICRC has therefore made it a priority to provide water and sanitation services.

" The ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law, " said Mr Cuttat.'' In particular, the parties must respect and protect persons not, or no longer, taking part in hostilities, i.e. civilians and the wounded, sick or detained. In addition, they must respect and protect humanitarian workers and allow and facilitate deliveries of humanitarian relief supplies'' .

In NWFP and FATA, the ICRC is working in partnership with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, and coordinating its activities with the authorities and other humanitarian organizations.

The ICRC has been working in Pakistan since 1981 and currently employs 427 staff in the country, including 46 international staff. It maintains regular contact with all parties to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it most.

For further information, please contact:
  Marco Succi, ICRC Islamabad, tel. +92 300 850 81 38
  Sitara Jabeen, ICRC Islamabad, tel. +92 300 850 56 93
  Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2405 or +41 79 217 3226